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Off-The-Wall   1 - Duke Energy Employee Advocate

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"Stash away the duct tape. Don't use it. Stash it away." - Tom Ridge, secretary of homeland security

Crack Cocaine Caper

Employee Advocate – – January 31, 2004

The best “Off The Wall” reports always seem to come from California, for some reason. This report comes courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle. It all started as a routine drug bust. On Monday, the police spotted a 20-year-old suspected dealer working the streets in the wee hours of the morning.

As the police converged on the female suspect, she had to think fast. She was already on probation for a drug offense and did not want to get caught with any drugs in her possession. She was moments from being arrested; what could she do? Eating the drugs was probably not a good option.

Seconds before apprehension, the suspect inserted the plastic bag of drugs into a bodily orifice. Suffice it to say that a male dealer could not have pulled this off.

What were the officers to do? They handcuffed her and took her to the station, where a female officer strip-searched her. The suspect ensured that there was nothing to be found on her, externally. Thus began a 10-hour ordeal.

The suspect was taken to the San Francisco General emergency room. At 8:30 a.m., the officers were able to obtain a "body cavity search warrant.'' But they could not find anyone willing to perform the search. The attending physician maintained that it wasn't a medical emergency.

The county jail nurse said she that she didn't have the equipment to do it.

The narcotics detail captain threaten to get a court order and arrest the doctor if he refused to perform the search. Patients heard the threat and tempers flared.

Finally Health Department Director Dr. Mitch Katz agreed to come to the hospital and perform the search.

As a female physician was explaining the circumstances, the suspect reached under the blanket covering her and produced a bag of crack cocaine rocks. The officers then had the evidence to book her.

The captain did not do too well explaining the situation. He said “Look, we were caught between a rock and hard place.”

Too Fat for Whoppers

Employee Advocate – – January 10, 2004

When customers order at a Troy Michigan Burger King drive-through window, they sometime get health advice, according to One customer was told "You don't need a couple of Whoppers. You are too fat. Pull ahead."

When customers try to order Coke, some are told “We don't have Coke. We don't have anything. Pull ahead.”

Apparently, pranksters on the same radio frequency are responsible.

Read about a previous Burger King adventure:

Burger King Cooks ‘Sole’ Food

Definitely Not Felix Unger!

Employee Advocate – – December 31, 2003

A New York man became trapped in his own apartment, according to the Associated Press. How did such a thing happen? A mountain of mail, books, newspapers, and magazines fell upon him, pinning him down for two days!

Patrice Moore was trapped on Saturday; his landlord found him on Monday. He was freed after neighbors, emergency workers, and fire fighters dug him out of the debris. In the process, 50 garbage bags were filled with paper.

In 1947, the Collyer brothers were found dead in their house in Harlem. One was trapped in a similar landslide of paper and died. The other died of starvation.

New Year’s resolution suggestion: CLEAN UP!

Drop the Almanac, Scumbag!

Employee Advocate – - December 31, 2003

Tom Ride tried to solve the terrorism panic by advising Americans to seal their houses with duct tape. Now the FBI has issued to hot tip to police units, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Police are to be on the lookout for people carrying – almanacs!

Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, said “Founding father Benjamin Franklin probably never imagined that the almanac he created would be the subject of an FBI terrorism bulletin. Franklin certainly foresaw the danger of government overreaching during a time of crisis. We hope that both the almanac and the Constitution will survive intact.”

WMD? We Have Duct Tape!

‘Mr. Christmas’ Pulls the Plug

Employee Advocate – – December 23, 2003

According to the Associated Press, Mervin Whipple is “Mr. Christmas” in Connecticut. He has put on a gigantic holiday light display, Whipple's Christmas Wonderland, for 35 years.

He is pulling the plug this year. It cost him $19,000 last year for the display, and fewer people are volunteering to help.

An emotional Mr. Whipple said “It's a changed world. The spirit of Christmas is gone.”

Passing the Double Sawbuck

Employee Advocate – – November 10, 2003

The newly designed $20 bill was supposed to be the last word in stopping counterfeiters. The government is very proud of the new bill. It is so proud that it is spending $33 million to tout the bill to the public, according to an earlier Taxpayers For Common Sense report.

Now the Associated Press reports that the new bill in not slowing down counterfeiters at all! One woman was passing fakes of the new bill one week after the bill was introduced! At least nine people have been arrested due to counterfeiting the new bill, only a month after its debut. Almost 200 counterfeit versions of the new $20 bill have already been spotted!

It is much too early for the “Mission Accomplished” banner to be strung up for this boondoggle.

Some Guards are Real Pigs

Employee Advocate – – October 29, 2003

Police officers do not relish the term “pig.” Be that as it may, the proposed Jewish settlements guards are really a bunch of pigs! BBC News reported that an Israeli group has recommended using trained guard pigs.

Kuti Ben-Yaakov pointed out “Pigs' sense of smell is far more developed than that of dogs. The pigs will also be able to identify weapons from huge distances, and walk in the direction of the terrorist, thereby pointing him out.

“Moreover, this animal is considered to be dangerous by Islam and, according to the Muslim faith, a terrorist who touches a pig is not eligible for the 70 virgins in heaven.”

It remains to be seen if the new guards bites are worse that than their oinks.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Employee Advocate – – October 25, 2003

Taxpayers For Common Sense reported that the feds are spending $33 million to educate the public. No problem, so far. That’s better than spending the money to blow apart sovereign nations for bogus reasons.

But the $33 million is going into an advertising campaign to teach Americans about the redesigned $20 bill! Does the government think that the public is that dense? How many ways can one say “It’s a different color”?

There’s more. Goldfish Crackers® will get into the act. The bill will be displayed on special bags, and the crackers will be tinted to match the color of the new bills!

Lard-Making and Lobbying

Employee Advocate – – October 14, 2003

Didn’t something just seem a little too cute about the Segway "human trans-porters"? Neal Peirce seems to think so too, from his Seattle Times article: “The Segway is just another lard-making device.”

Mr. Peirce offered a quote from the San Francisco Weekly: “ ‘Lard. Buckets of lard. Fat, rosy cheeks. Ample alabaster bellies. Arms that flap, legs that waddle, bodies by the millions shaking like bowls of jelly.’ Why, the paper asks, introduce ‘a high-technology lard-making device just at the moment when America is suffocating from obesity?’ ”

The company was a little too smug even before the Segway was announced. It kept running teaser articles. It call the project “Jennifer,” but would not reveal what it was. Arrogant statements were made about Jennifer revolutionizing the transportation industry as Americans knew it.

Then the product finally appeared: Something that looked a lot like an electric floor scrubber that people could ride. It looked about as safe as a skateboard. Its claim to fame was its "dynamic stabilization" technology. Apparently one can ride an electric floor scrubber, if gyroscopes hold it upright. But the gyroscopes proved to be the Seaway’s downfall, so to speak. When the batteries get weak, the gyroscopes fail, and the passenger falls.

G. W. Bush was photographed falling off of one, before it was even turned on. But G. W. Bush is a special case. If the Segway had been a motorized pretzel, the incident could have proved fatal!

At 5 grand each, only 6,000 Segways have been sold. They have all been recalled, due to the stability problem. This may put a kink in the massive lobbying campaign to make Segways street-legal. The lobbying blitz resulted in favorable laws in 41 states.

Inventor Dean Kamen had a clever idea. It looks dumb, has a dumb name, is overpriced, will spill you on the sidewalk, but it is still a clever idea. A Segway should be preserved for the Smithsonian Institute.

Bush Fails to Meet Moron Criteria

Zero Tolerance Nursing Home

Employee Advocate – - August 9, 2003

Evidently Fordyce nursing home has a zero tolerance policy, according to an Associated Press report. The nursing assistants, 17-year-old Shermika Rainey and 44-year-old Gayla Wilson felt that 81-year old Willie Mae Ryan was “being disrespectful.”

Wanting to nip the disrespectfulness in the bud, the pair took action on July 30, 2003. One assistant held the 81-year old while the other beat her with brass knuckles! Ms. Ryan survived the beating, and is in the critical care unit at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff.

The Arkansas nursing assistants are charged with attempted murder and are being held on 100-thousand dollars bond. They are facing 5 to 20 years in prison, if convicted. If this pair land in the big house, they will probably get all the respect that is coming to them.

Truth in Advertising

Employee Advocate – - July 8, 2003

The Sidney Morning Herald reported that there is a brothel in New Zealand called “The White House.” The U. S. Embassy has lodged a complaint.

This month, brothels were legalized in New Zealand. "The White House" is running ads for prostitutes and displaying a logo similar to the U. S. presidential seal.

Certainly everyone knows that there is a marked difference between the Bush White House and the brothel named "The White House." The primary difference is…(This is too easy – fill in your own punch line for this one!)

Lemonade Stand Busted

Employee Advocate – - June 22, 2003

Naples Daily News reported that the cops busted the lemonade stand of a 6-year-old girl. A neighbor ratted her out, because she did not have a permit.

The story made TV and radio talk shows. The town of Naples, Florida was ridiculed for the action. So much so, that the city gave the girl a free permit to operate the stand.

The girl’s mother said "I tell her it will be good training someday when she's a CEO."

But her mother has it all wrong. The little girl will have to come up with some much more ruthless tactics to get into the CEO league. If she were to sell retirees poisoned lemonade and then rifle the pockets of the dying customers, then she would be well on her way to becoming a CEO.

'Who Moved My Soap?'

Employee Advocate – – May 11, 2003

Andy Borowitz's "Who Moved My Soap? The CEO's Guide to Surviving in Prison," may offer help to executives facing hard time for fraud. It is more likely to provide laughs for investors who have been financially raped by greedy corporate executives, according to Bloomberg News.

Nell Minow, editor of the Corporate Library, said "There is so much pretentious, fatuous, snake-oil babble about leadership and strategy and investing… Andy Borowitz gets it, and he skewers it."

Management toadies will continue to read "Who Moved My Cheese?," in their eternal quest to become the perfect sycophant.

Real people will read "Who Moved My Soap?,” to find out if dastardly deed doers disburse in the end.

Keep the title in mind. The book will make a nice gift for your favorite CEO. It is suitable for any occasion, and like as not, it just may come in handy. The CEO may fondly remember that you helped protect his assets.

Never Rush Into Anything

Employee Advocate – – April 5, 2003

Zyness O'Haver and Sallie Warren were married Wednesday in Oklahoma City - after cohabiting for 77 years.

The bride is 94 and the groom is 95, according to the Associated Press. Several of their grandchildren attended the wedding.

Mr. Bush Changes Name

Associated Press – March 29, 2003

MONTPELLIER, France - A British man named Eric Bush has taken a dramatic step to protest the U.S.-led war in Iraq — he's changed his name.

Bush, a 72-year-old retiree living in Jonquieres in southern France, says he was "ashamed" to bear the same name as President Bush. His surname was officially changed Friday to Buisson, the French word for bush.

"People tell me that this will pass, but I don't agree, because this name will go down in history as that of a tyrant," he told The Associated Press.

Buisson, a retired researcher in semiconductors who moved to France in 1986, said he began the proceedings to change his name just before the war began last week. He said he signed the paper work Friday in the presence of an official witness.

The British consulate declined to confirm the name change, saying it was a private matter.

Buisson, who says his wife Mireille also plans to change her name, said he's not a pacifist. He supported the 1991 Gulf War because it was supported by the United Nations.

"This time, Bush is outside the law," he said.

Bush Saw the Bad Moon Arising

Strange Luggage

AFP – March 23, 2003

28 baby girls found in suitcases on Chinese bus

Police in southwestern China discovered 28 baby girls hidden in suitcases on a long-distance bus and apparently destined to be sold, police and a state-run newspaper said.

One of the babies had died by the time police, acting on a tip-off, found them Tuesday night on the bus at a highway toll gate in Bingyang, Guangxi province, the Beijing Morning News said.

Police at the Bingyang police station confirmed the case and told AFP more than 20 suspects had been arrested.

"The babies are fine. More than 20 people have been arrested," one police officer said, refusing to comment further.

Another officer said the youngest babies were only a few days old. "They had been on the bus for four or five hours before they were found," he said.

The oldest baby was no more than three months old, the newspaper reported.

Some of the infants were two or three to a suitcase. The nylon suitcases were stacked on the luggage rack, the back row of seats and along the sides of the bus.

The babies appeared to have been drugged to keep them from crying and being found.

Police officers recounted their disbelief when they found one baby after another on the bus.

"After I found three to four infants, I felt shocked," one officer told the newspaper.

Police said they did not know where the babies came from and where they were headed. The bus was travelling from Yulin city in the poverty-stricken Guangxi province to central China's similarly poor Anhui province.

The 27 surviving babies were in stable condition. The cheeks of some of them had turned purplish as temperatures had dropped on the bus during the night.

The infants are being kept at the Minorities Weisheng School in nearby Nanlin district, one of the police officers told AFP.

"Nurses are taking care of them. The local government has set aside money to care for the infants. Local residents are taking milk powder to the school for the babies," he said.

Most of the infants were a few months old and some had been kept in large leather bags near the passengers, he said.

Those who were arrested included passengers on the bus, the officer said.

"Most of the people arrested were middle-aged women from Bingyang. They probably wanted to make some money. They might have been headed for Guangdong," he said.

Police are seeking other suspects. "They haven't arrested all of them yet," he said.

So far no one had claimed the infants.

"It's possible the parents gave the babies away. Family planning policy is very strict and they probably had exceeded their birth limit and wanted to give the babies away to avoid fines," the officer said.

"Perhaps some of them were born to unwed mothers or migrant workers."

Child and female trafficking is a serious problem in China with cases regularly reported in Chinese newspapers. Children are sold to families who lack children or want more, while older girls or women are sold as brides to poor farmers.

A report issued by UNICEF in 2001 said more than a quarter of a million women and children have been victims of trafficking in China in recent decades.

Bush Wants More Control

Washington Post – by Lloyd Grove – March 22, 2003

(3/21/03) - The White House is vowing a strong retaliatory response after the BBC aired live video of President Bush getting his hair coiffed in the Oval Office as he squirmed in his chair and practiced on the teleprompter minutes before Wednesday night's speech announcing the launch of military operations against Saddam Hussein.

The British network broadcast 1 minute and 37 seconds of presidential primping to hundreds of millions of viewers in 200 countries around the world (and locally on WETA, Channel 26) before Bush's formal address at 10:15 p.m. Yesterday the BBC's White House producer, Mark Orchard, profusely and repeatedly apologized to irked staffers for airing video of an "unauthorized" portion of the pool feed while Washington anchor Mishal Husain chatted up a colleague about the significance of the moment.

CBS News Washington bureau chief Janet Leissner, whose news crew was responsible for pool coverage of the speech, also apologized to the White House, explaining that a technician accidentally flipped a switch that fed the images of a not-ready-for-prime-time Bush -- his eyes darting to and fro as a female stylist sprayed, combed and patted down his hair.

A BBC spokeswoman told us that her network promptly realized the video was not for broadcast "but they couldn't pull away because of technical difficulties." Meanwhile, we hear that in Britain, the commercial network ITV also aired the hair-raising feed.

"It was an honest mistake," Leissner told us yesterday -- but the Bushies were not impressed.

"The facts are that it was an unauthorized use of footage and video," a senior White House official told us, asking not to be named. "Both the BBC and CBS have apologized, and it would be understandable if this were the only time this has happened. I'm not suggesting it was intentional, but this kind of thing has happened more than once."

Henceforth, the official said, the White House -- not the networks -- will throw the switches that make pool feeds available to broadcast outlets. "There have been too many incidents," the official said, listing various presidential speeches allegedly marred by pool-feed glitches. "We have to make sure we are comfortable with the situation."

Armageddon Warning? - by Edward Helmore – March 16, 2003

An obscure Jewish sect in New York has been gripped in awe by what it believes to be a mystical visitation by a 20lb carp that was heard shouting in Hebrew, in what many Jews worldwide are hailing as a modern miracle.

Many of the 7,000-member Skver sect of Hasidim in New Square, 30 miles north of Manhattan, believe God has revealed himself in fish form.

According to two fish-cutters at the New Square Fish Market, the carp was about to be slaughtered and made into gefilte fish for Sabbath dinner when it suddenly began shouting apocalyptic warnings in Hebrew.

Many believe the carp was channelling the troubled soul of a revered community elder who recently died; others say it was God. The only witnesses to the mystical show were Zalmen Rosen, a 57-year-old Hasid with 11 children, and his co-worker, Luis Nivelo. They say that on 28 January at 4pm they were about to club the carp on the head when it began yelling.

Nivelo, a Gentile who does not understand Hebrew, was so shocked at the sight of a fish talking in any language that he fell over. He ran into the front of the store screaming: 'It's the Devil! The Devil is here!' Then the shop owner heard it shouting warnings and commands too.

'It said "Tzaruch shemirah" and "Hasof bah",' he told the New York Times, 'which essentially means that everyone needs to account for themselves because the end is near.'

The animated carp commanded Rosen to pray and study the Torah. Rosen tried to kill the fish but injured himself. It was finally butchered by Nivelo and sold.

However, word spread far and wide and Nivelo complains he has been plagued by phone calls from as far away as London and Israel. The story has since been amplified by repetition and some now believe the fish's outburst was a warning about the dangers of the impending war in Iraq.

Some say they fear the born-again President Bush believes he is preparing the world for the Second Coming of Christ, and war in Iraq is just the opening salvo in the battle of Armageddon.

Local resident Abraham Spitz said: 'Two men do not dream the same dream. It is very rare that God reminds people he exists in this modern world. But when he does, you cannot ignore it.'

Others in New Square discount the apocalyptic reading altogether and suggest the notion of a talking fish is as fictional as Tony Soprano's talking-fish dream in an episode of The Sopranos .

Stand-up comedians have already incorporated the carp into their comedy routines at weddings. One gefilte company has considered changing it's slogan to: 'Our fish speaks for itself.'

Still, the shouting carp corresponds with the belief of some Hasidic sects that righteous people can be reincarnated as fish. They say that Nivelo may have been selected because he is not Jewish, but a weary Nivelo told the New York Times : 'I wish I never said anything about it. I'm getting so many calls every day, I've stopped answering. Israel, London, Miami, Brooklyn. They all want to hear about the talking fish.'

A devout Christian, he still thinks the carp was the Devil. 'I don't believe any of this Jewish stuff. But I heard that fish talk.'

He's grown tired of the whole thing. 'It's just a big headache for me,' he added. 'I pull my phone out of the wall at night. I don't sleep and I've lost weight.'

Cheney Pouts About Website

Associated Press – by Larry Neumeister - March 7, 2003

White House insists satirist remove image lampooning Lynne Cheney from Web site

(3/6/03) - An Internet lampoon of Vice President Dick Cheney's wife is no laughing matter at the White House, which has asked a satirist to remove pictures of her -- complete with red clown noses -- from his Web site.

But the New York Civil Liberties Union struck back Wednesday on behalf of John A. Wooden, 31, threatening a lawsuit to protect his First Amendment rights to parody the White House and Bush officials on his site,

The official White House site is

Cheney counsel David S. Addington warned Wooden's Chickenhead Productions Inc. that Lynne V. Cheney's name and pictures -- altered to show her with a red clown's nose and a missing tooth -- could not be used to make money without her consent, and asked Wooden to delete the photos and "fictitious biographical statement about her."

Instead, Wooden cautioned Web site visitors that the vice president "wishes you to be aware ... that some/all of the biographic information contained on this PARODY page about Mrs. Cheney may not actually be true."

And, it added, the editors of the Web site were "confident that any rumors about Mrs. Cheney formerly being a crystal meth pusher are 100 percent likely to be absolutely untrue. Similarly, any stories about her penchant for licking brandy Alexanders off the hirsute belly of her spouse are all lies, lies, lies!"

NYCLU lawyer Chris Dunn wrote the office of the vice president that the material was "fully protected by the First Amendment."

"With everything happening in the world, you'd think the office of the vice president would have something more important to do than sending letters to political satirists," Wooden said.

A spokeswoman for Cheney's office, Jennifer Millerwise, confirmed the letter from Addington was authentic but said she otherwise had no comment.

Justifiable Homicide

The Associated Press – March 6, 2003

George Doughty hung his latest hunting trophy on the wall of his Sportsman's Bar and Restaurant. Then he went to jail.

The problem was the trophy was Doughty's laptop computer.

He shot it four times, as customers watched, after it crashed once too often.

He was jailed on suspicion of felony menacing, reckless endangerment and the prohibited use of weapons.

"It's sort of funny, because everybody always threatens their computers," said police Lt. Rick Bashor, seconds before his own police computer froze at police headquarters.

Doughty was released Monday evening after spending a night in jail and is due in court Wednesday.

In police reports, Doughty said that he realized afterward that he shouldn't have shot his computer but at the time it seemed like the right thing to do.

WMD? We Have Duct Tape!

Employee Advocate – – February 23, 2003

The terrorist running amok with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) did not know what they were up against. They had no idea that Americans were armed with duct tape! And that’s not all. We have sheets of plastic too! So terrorist, make our day.

Some Americans were feeling a little apprehensive after hearing all of the war ranting coming from the White House. When the terrorist color code went from teal to cerulean, they knew that they were in deep doo-doo.

Fortunately, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge saved the day by letting people know that all that is needed to fight WMD is some duct tape and plastic. All over America people were thinking “Now, why didn’t I think of that.”

Half of the people were thinking “Tom Ridge, you are one sharp cookie.” The other half were thinking “You idiot! Even if we manage to get an airtight seal, we will suffocate!”

The Associated Press reported a run on duct tape. Store shelves were quickly emptied of all tape. Plants have been running extra shifts to try to keep up with the tape demand. The whole matter has become another sticky subject for the administration.

Tom Ridge recognized the pandemonium that he had created and issued an emergency bulletin: "Stash away the duct tape. Don't use it. Stash it away." (Now he tells us.)

So once again, Tom Ridge saved the day. It would be foolish to suffocate yourself before the WMD are even deployed. Suffocation only makes sense after WMD are launched!

If you suffocate yourself before a WMD strike has even been made, the terrorist win.

Cass Ballenger: ‘Big Mouth of the Year’

Employee Advocate – - January 26, 2003

The Charlotte Observer listed Congressman Cass Ballenger as the 2002 “Big Mouth of the Year” award winner.

The article, “Lew Powell's 26th annual Carolina Follies,” stated:

“Big mouth of the year: U.S. Rep. Cass Ballenger apologized -- and painted his lawn jockey white -- after saying that listening to Rep. Cynthia McKinney might stir in him ‘a little bit of a segregationist feeling....I mean, she was such a bitch.’ "

Do You Have to be Smart in Congress?

Small Scale Bush Cover-up

Employee Advocate – – January 23, 2003

It seems that G. W. Bush is always hiding something. This time it was a small scale cover-up.

Cardboard boxes stamped, in big letters, “MADE IN U.S.A.” were behind Bush during a speech touting tax breaks for businesses. But, according to the Drudge Report, the boxes were an illusion and a deception.

The real boxes in the St. Louis warehouse were stamped “Made in China.” The fake, “MADE IN U.S.A.” boxes were painted on a screen for a nifty photo-op backdrop. Someone even plastered big white labels over the “Made in China” stamps on the real boxes.

The warehouse manager tried to cover-up the “Made in China” cover-up. He said “I don’t know how it got there.”

The White House later came clean and said the labels were intentionally placed on the boxes. “An overzealous volunteer” was blamed. The volunteer could not take the fall for the backdrop.

Do not expect this administration to come clean on anything of real importance.

An Interview with Reddy Kilowatt

Employee Advocate – – January 20, 2003

A rare interview with reclusive, enigmatic Reddy Kilowatt

Employee Advocate: Thanks for getting in touch, Mr. Kilowatt. What made you think of us?

Reddy Kilowatt: I was just browsing around on and saw my name mentioned in “Duke’s 12 Days of Christmas.” On the spur of the moment, I decided to give you a call.

Employee Advocate: Well, it’s certainly good to see you again, Mr. Kilowatt. How is the new year treating you?

Reddy Kilowatt: Everything’s fine – couldn’t be better. (cough) It’s great to be here.

Employee Advocate: So, what are you doing these days?

Reddy Kilowatt: Well, I’m between engagements, right now. But I have a lot of offers coming in. There are a lot of offers coming in from the West Coast. I’m really big on the West Coast, you know? (cough)

Employee Advocate: We see. It must have been quite a blow to you when Duke suddenly downsized you. Ah, no pun intended, Mr. Kilowatt.

Reddy Kilowatt: That’s okay. (cough) I get a lot of jokes about my size. I’m not that big physically, but I was once a big name mascot for Duke Power. (cough) You might even say that I was a giant in the industry. Get it? Small size – giant in the industry – get it? I was known and loved by thousands. I knew that I was in trouble when they said that they were going to downsize the mascot department. I was the only one in it! It was a shock to be downsized, but I’m not bitter.

Employee Advocate: It’s good that you are not carrying any grudges. How do you feel about your replacement, ZAX?

Reddy Kilowatt: (cough)

Employee Advocate: Mr. Kilowatt…about ZAX.

Reddy Kilowatt: (cough, cough)

Employee Advocate: We can skip the question, if you prefer not to talk about ZAX.

Reddy Kilowatt: (cough) That’s okay. I’m not bitter! (cough)

Employee Advocate: What was you last engagement like?

Reddy Kilowatt: (cough) Well, I’ve really been keeping my options open since Duke DOWNSIZED me. (cough) I'm still sorting through all of my offers. But I’ll tell you this right now, I’m not bitter!

Employee Advocate: Reddy, that was years ago! Haven’t you had any other jobs since Duke?

Reddy Kilowatt: Just one. It was in a microprocessor plant. But you know about microprocessors and static electricity. I fried the whole production run the first day. It was my only day. They called me Reddy Kill-a-lot! Production run – lot – get it? Get it? It was humiliating.

Employee Advocate: Reddy, it was a blow to all employees when you were, er, downsized. You were always like one of the family.

Reddy Kilowatt: Thanks. (cough) I suppose ZAX was a better man. I’m not bitter!

Employee Advocate: Reddy, are things really going that well? We called the number that you gave and it was disconnected.

Reddy Kilowatt: I have offers and I’m not bitter. (cough)

Employee Advocate: We went by the address that you gave and it was a vacant lot.

Reddy Kilowatt: I move around a lot. (cough) I’m still dealing with what Duke did to me, but I’m not bitter.

Employee Advocate: Reddy, just look at you! You haven’t shaved in days. You look like you have been sleeping in your clothes. You reek of cheap gin. And, how long have you had that cough?

Reddy Kilowatt: Well, it’s hard to shave when your hand is not steady, when you don’t have hot water, or any water, or a mirror, or a razor, or the will to draw another breath. (cough, sob) But I’m not bitter. (sob)

Employee Advocate: Go on.

Reddy Kilowatt: I have been sleeping in my clothes. It gets so bitter cold in my cardboard box. (sob, cough) I am always cold. My chest hurts from all this coughing.

Employee Advocate: Tell it, Reddy.

Reddy Kilowatt: During the ice storm, my box starting leaking. (cough) I agreed to this interview just to get a few minutes out of the cold. I can’t get rid of this cough. I can’t go to the doctor. I have no insurance. I have no money. The, once free, company mascot retirement medical insurance now has a premium of $10,000 per month! If I could pay $10,000 a month, would I be sleeping in a box? President Bush has raised the eligibility age for Mascot Social Security to 210. So, I am just out in the cold. Get it? Cardboard box – out in the cold. Get it? Anyway, that’s why I carry this hip flask to help numb the pain. (gulp, gulp) Here, want a nip?

Employee Advocate: No thanks. And, maybe you have had enough.

Reddy Kilowatt: My flask is all that I have left. (gulp, gulp) Duke destroyed my life. (cough) But I’m not bitter. (gulp, gulp) Are you sure that you don’t want a little nip?

Employee Advocate: We are sure. So, all of your problems began when Duke downsized you and put ZAX…

Reddy Kilowatt: (gulp) Look! I’ve heard about all I want to hear about ZAX. Understand?

Employee Advocate: We can skip the touchy subject, if you like.

Reddy Kilowatt: That’s okay. (gulp, gulp) I’m not bitter. (cough) Here! Take a nip!

Employee Advocate: No! Why don’t we call ZAX? He may want a nip!

Reddy Kilowatt: That’s it, Buster! Prepare for electrocution!

Employee Advocate: Put you gloves back on, Reddy. It was just a joke.

Reddy Kilowatt: Oh, sorry. Sometimes things just start closing in on me. (gulp, cough, gulp) But I’m really not bitter.

Employee Advocate: Well, good. We could get paranoid about using the word “ZAX.”

Reddy Kilowatt: ZAX, ZAX, ZAX, ZAX! Is ZAX the only word you know? (gulp) I’m not bitter, but… The hell I’m not bitter! Duke completely destroyed my life, my identity, my reason for being. I was once a household word. I was Duke Power. Not Duke Energy, but Duke Power. Duke Power stood for integrity, it was not just another floating crap game! That was all before ZAX.

Employee Advocate: And, then you were replaced by ZAX…

Reddy Kilowatt: There you go again! (gulp, cough) I could tell you a few things about ZAX.

Employee Advocate: Tell is all, ZAX, er, Reddy, that is. Just put the chair back down and tell your story.

Reddy Kilowatt: Oh, boy! (cough) I’ll tell you a story. (gulp) One day I was sitting outside of my box. I had taken my hat off and it was on the sidewalk. Mr. ZAX came strutting along in a tuxedo, top hat, and cape. He tossed fifty-cents into my hat, smirked, and kept walking!

Employee Advocate: It’s understandable that you harbor some resentments.

Reddy Kilowatt: Right! (gulp) You cannot even buy a cheap bottle of gin with fifty-cents!

Employee Advocate: Let’s just forget about ZAX. What do you think about Enron?

Reddy Kilowatt: I tell you, I was adored by millions - millions! Just look at my cute little light bulb nose, my little lightening bolt body, and my adorable Mickey Mouse feet! If you look up “cute” in the dictionary, you will find a picture of me. If you look up “jerk,” you will find a picture of ZAX. Yes, I’m really a live wire. Lightening bold – live wire – get it? Get it? I have to be careful though. I have to wear my thick rubber gloves and rubber boots all the time. Do you have any idea what would become of me if I ever found a path to ground?

Employee Advocate: ZAX was a terrible experience for, but about Enron…

Reddy Kilowatt: Sometimes people still recognize me on the street. I know they do, but they quickly glance away and keep walking. One little boy said “Look, mommy, it’s Reddy Kilowatt!” His mother said “No son, that’s just an old wino.” (gulp, gulp) She knew it was me. (sob) Some people think that mascots have no feelings. (sob)

Employee Advocate: As to the matter of Enron…

Reddy Kilowatt: Can you believe that I, Reddy Kilowatt, was replaced by the likes of ZAX? (gulp) At least I made sense – lightening bolt body – light bulb nose – electricity – get it? Get it? Then in comes ZAX, that big, floppy, goofy, lop-eared, no-name, flea bag. And, he replaced ME? I was born to represent Duke Power! All ZAX represents is stupidity!

Employee Advocate: The interesting thing about Enron…

Reddy Kilowatt: Not only is ZAX stupid, even his name is stupid! Did Duke have a contest to come up with the dumbest possible name? They started with the bottom letter of the alphabet, because ZAX is really scraping the bottom of the barrel!

Employee Advocate: The thing about Enron…

Reddy Kilowatt: On the other hand, my name makes perfect sense. (gulp) Reddy Kilowatt – electricity – kilowatt – always ready – get it? Get it? I will have to concede that ZAX is the perfect mascot for the direction the company has taken in the last six years. ZAX is the perfect representation of buffoonery! If the new goal is total failure, ZAX will take you there. Maybe I’m not getting my point across. What I meant to say is that ZAX is a total idiot!

Employee Advocate: It’s fair to say that you did not hit it off with ZAX, but Enron’s CEO was…

Reddy Kilowatt: I once had it all, I tell you. But much of what I though I had were only promises. Promises are no good if they are not kept. Promises become illusions. Promises become deception. (gulp) My pension and health care were promises quickly forgotten when they were no longer in vogue by the bean counting crowd. Losing my promised benefits and being downsized is one thing, but to be replaced by a totally worthless blob is unbearable!

Employee Advocate: Back to Enron…

Reddy Kilowatt: Forget Enron! ZAX doomed Duke to failure! When Reddy Kilowatt was the mascot, did you hear about lawsuits every other day?

Employee Advocate: No, lawsuits were a rarity, almost unheard of. But at Enron...

Reddy Kilowatt: When Reddy Kilowatt ruled, did you hear about constant government investigations?

Employee Advocate: No. There was none of that. You ran a taut ship, Reddy. But Enron…

Reddy Kilowatt: Was there any “round-trip” trading on Reddy Kilowatt’s watch?

Employee Advocate: No. There was absolutely no monkey business. Duke made electricity and sold electricity. It did not try to make money by running con games on the employees and customers. Enron was…

Reddy Kilowatt: Did you hear about anyone losing their pension during the tenure of Reddy Kilowatt?

Employee Advocate: As a matter of fact, no! Everyone always received their full pension, as promised. Thousands and thousand of people retired and they all got what they were promised. Enron had…

Reddy Kilowatt: Did you ever here of people losing their retirement health care after working for 30 or 40 years, when Reddy Kilowatt was on the job?

Employee Advocate: You are right again, Reddy. The old Duke Power kept its promises to employees. Everyone knew it was part of the workers compensation; it could not just be taken away, years later! Enron tried...

Reddy Kilowatt: When Reddy Kilowatt was Duke Power, was the company skewered in the press each day?

Employee Advocate: No. The name Duke Power was almost revered. And, the name Reddy Kilowatt was well respected. But we have had a new CEO for the last six years. And much like Enron...

Reddy Kilowatt: Yeah? And, you have had a new ZAX too! I suppose the final indignity will be when they make ZAX the CEO!

Employee Advocate: You may have hit upon something, Reddy. At least ZAX would not be carrying the baggage of six years of failure. And, how could he do any worse? Not to change the subject, but Enron...

Reddy Kilowatt: That’s good, because we are not going to change the subject! ZAX is nothing. He has always been nothing. He will always be nothing. I just hope that Duke did not actually spend money on ZAX. Maybe some executive’s 7 year old daughter created him. Did the utility commission have to audit the books when Reddy Kilowatt was at the helm?

Employee Advocate: No, everyone trusted Duke. The employees, the public, the ratepayers, the investors all trusted Duke. Duke was led be men of integrity. Enron had a similar situation…

Reddy Kilowatt: Under the guidance of Reddy Kilowatt, did Duke have to buy ads in The Wall Street Journal each week in an attempt to salvage its reputation?

Employee Advocate: No, Reddy. Duke had a good reputation; it did not have to try and buy one. Well, there’s one good thing. Talking about ZAX seems to have cleared up your cough. Enron also...

Reddy Kilowatt: This has all been in me a long time. It feel good to get it all out. Draining the flask didn't hurt any either.

Employee Advocate: Doesn’t Duke provide you with a pension. Why must you live in a box?

Reddy Kilowatt: I was supposed to have a very good pension. But then, Duke converted it to the Mascot Cash Balance Plan. Under the old plan, I could have taken early retirement after 100 years of service. But under the Mascot Cash Balance Plan, one must work for 172 years to reach the crossover point. But there is a catch to that. You cannot work for 172 years without a job! If you get downsized, that’s just tough.

Employee Advocate: Did you get a cash balance amount?

Reddy Kilowatt: Yes, but it was too small to live on. You see, mascots can live for hundreds of years. Well, the ones that do not have to live in boxes can live a long time. Anyway, they took what would have been a decent amount of retirement money, projected it to age 172 and brought it back to its present day value. It was discounted for the inflation rate, Social Security, and the early retirement provision was eliminated. Then I was hammered by the GATT rate. My 90 years of service meant nothing! All I have is a cheap certificate for 90 years of perfect attendance. It’s plugging a hole in my box.

Employee Advocate: Did you spend all of the cash balance money?

Reddy Kilowatt: In a way, I did. Since the amount was so small, I thought that I would take it to the tracks and run it into the amount that I should have received. I did okay for a while. I was eventually wiped out. What was so bad – I found out that the horse that lost it all was owned by ZAX! Duke gave ZAX stock options. He cashed them in before the deregulation game collapsed. Now he owns race horses, gambling boats, several senators, and an interest in President Bush.

Employee Advocate: Do you mean that people actually own shares of Bush?

Reddy Kilowatt: But, of course! Most big corporations own shares in Bush. Kenny-Boy used to own a controlling interest in Bush, but his shares became worthless, overnight. I cannot wait util they divide up the assets! Get it? Shares of Bush – divide up the assets – get it? ZAX has pumped a lot of money in this puppy; he should get at least a big toe.

Employee Advocate: Reddy, this was supposed to have been a lighthearted interview with a former mascot. No one expected all this. This was to have been a twenty minute interview – now it’s 3 AM! It’s futile to try to steer a conversation with a drunken lightening bolt! We are going to have to wrap this up.

Reddy Kilowatt: Wait! There’s plenty more. Do you remember when the Duke Endowment wanted to unload Duke stock, because it was too risky? Doris Duke would not allow it. She said that her daddy told her to never sell the stock. The bean counters hovered around her like vultures until she died – then they unloaded the Duke stock. If Duke stock was too risky for a Duke organization, why was it suitable for some employees to have all of their 401 (k) money in it?

Employee Advocate: Gosh Reddy, you ask hard questions. Rick Priory cut the dividend and said that Duke stock was now a “growth” stock. But really, it seems more like a speculative stock. We did warn employees about the dangers of putting all of their 401 (k) money in Duke stock – before it crashed. This would explain the employee’s 401 (k) lawsuit against Duke.

Reddy Kilowatt: You’re catching on! Even after Bill Lee retired, he was active in Duke affairs, literally until the day he died. The ZAX Cabala would have not dared tried some of their schemes while he was alive. But with Ms. Duke and Mr. Lee out of the picture, I was the only remaining vestige of the old guard. When I refused to play along with their get rich quick schemes, I found myself on the street. After that, the others fell in line with the new system. Some hated it, but they fell in line just the same.

Employee Advocate: This is too much to absorb all at once.

Reddy Kilowatt: Paul Anderson was no fool. He saw what was coming. He did not want to be sucked down by the undertow and got out while the getting was good. The ZAX Cabala never could get to him.

Employee Advocate: Since you mentioned it, that whole episode was very strange. It was in all the papers for weeks that Paul Anderson was leaving Duke. But Duke played dumb about the whole matter. Duke kept repeating some dumb “We cannot confirm or deny” statement, like parrots! Any company that cannot keep track of its own executives has problems. Anyway, some time later, Rick Priory announced that he knew that Paul Anderson was leaving for some time!

Reddy Kilowatt: ZAX will get his though. He is not getting the play that he used to get. I may be the lucky one. Duke cut my head off with one whack. ZAX may lose his head a sixteenth of an inch at a time. When a mascot is not terminated, but just shelved, it’s a very slow death. People will ask ZAX “Didn’t you used to be the Duke mascot, years ago?” He will have to hang his head and say “I still am.” People will say “Sorry, I didn’t know; I just haven’t seen you in years.” Maybe some day I can toss him fifty-cents!

Employee Advocate: It is 5 AM, Reddy. Let’s get you a good meal and a hotel room.

Reddy Kilowatt: Great! Afterwards, I can fill you in on a few more things about ZAX. I didn’t even get into his sexual orientation. No one knows for sure if he/she is male or female. Heck, no one knows for sure just what he/she/it is! Do you remember the song “The Purple People Eater”?

Employee Advocate: Reddy, say “Goodnight folks.”

Reddy Kilowatt: Goodnight folks.

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Duke’s 12 Days of Christmas

Off The Wall - Page 2